Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater – Nintendo 64
Platform: Nintendo 64
Developer: Neversoft/ Edge of Reality
Release Date (NA): February 29th, 2000
Genre: Sports, Skateboarding
Nerd Rating: 8/10
Reviewed by Steroid Gamer
Skateboarding games weren’t much of a thing until the Tony Hawk franchise was born in the fall of 1999 when it debuted on the original PlayStation. The first game was just simply titled Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. The game was released on the Nintendo 64 on February 29, 2000 and it changed the way skateboarding games (or even the “extreme” sports genre) were looked at forever.
Here in the original, players can take control of one out of eleven possible professional skaters when the game boots up (a few other skaters can be unlocked throughout the course of the game but those are best left as a surprise). You take your professional skater through the nine levels performing various flip, grabs, and grinds while trying to complete the set of required goals. It may be a familiar formula today, but at the time it was unique and awesome.
There are two types of levels in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. The skate competitions and the goal focused or “normal” levels. The normal levels give you five goals and two minutes to complete them. Now, don’t get confused. You don’t HAVE to complete all the goals in one run through the level. It’s just every time you start the level you’re given a two minute timer, to which you can use how you want. Feeling confident or cocky? Try getting all the goals in one run. Is one goal slowing you up? That’s fine, just use the whole two minutes and focus on the one goal.
It’s a system that creates intensity. In some cases it’s a good kind of intensity. Skating down the Mall level trying to collect the “E” before the clock reaches zero is a thrill. One of the game’s many goals is to collect the letters S.K.A.T.E. that are floating around the level. However, when you are trying to find the hidden tape, but it’s just out of your reach and it will drive you crazy knowing you’ll have to start all over if you don’t pick it up in the next few seconds. A lot of times the hidden tape was in the most obscure and hard to reach places so getting there was a chore itself, and in some cases you still had to jump or “Ollie” to grab it. So trying to get to the location multiple times in one run-through of the level can prove to be challenging.
Every so often the game throws a Skate Competition level at you. These are a great change of pace from the games regular goal hunting recipe. You get three “heats” or basically three tries to get as many points as possible in one minute. You can rack up points by performing tricks and grinds. Combining the two into a combo proves to be even more fruitful. Each “heat” is scored by A.I. judges and the worst of your three runs is thrown out. You compete against other A.I. controlled opponents, but you don’t have to watch them skate as their scores are just automatically posted. As long as you can earn yourself a bronze medal, you’re good to advance. It’s not too difficult and I found myself staying at competitions much longer than I needed so I could earn that coveted gold medal.
The goals are fun to get and the pace at which the difficulty progresses throughout the game is practically perfect. The only real problem is the lack of variety. You see, each of the eleven skaters has to go through all of the nine levels in the game, completing all the goals, getting all the medals etc., in order to achieve 100% in the game. Of course, you don’t have to get 100% in the game, but it’s so fun and addicting you’re going to want to. Look at it this way. If there are six goal-oriented levels, each of them tasking you to find the hidden tape, and there are eleven skaters (excluding hidden ones) that’s a total of 54 hidden tapes you’re going to collect. So things can get repetitive rather quick. There are a few differences between each skater’s goals though. Where one might have to “Tailgrab over the quarter pipe”, another will get to “Airwalk over the quarter pipe”, so variety isn’t necessarily the spice of life in Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater.
The game can have some frustrating moments arise due to the controls. For the most part the controls are great, and the skaters feel surprisingly deadly responsive to the tricks you try to get them to perform. However, occasionally they will get up slow after a bail. Sometimes they will get caught in the game’s geometry when trying to “turn around” and skate somewhere else (skater’s are glued to their boards in the game and can’t get off of them). These are really only issues if you are in a dire clock situation and lacking the sufficient time to complete your goal. Luckily there is a perfect restart system. You pause the game, hit restart and BOOM! The game starts you over. There is no load time whatsoever when restarting a level and this in itself removes a ton of frustration that could boil up if you had to wait between failed attempts.
The levels themselves are varied and cool. Downtown Minneapolis, The School, and San Francisco are some of the highlights. The levels all have good visual distinctions from each other. Some take place during the day; others at night, and some are indoors vs. others being outdoors. The environments and the creativity in which every day objects can be used to “trick” upon are astounding. The diverse pallet goes a long way in keeping the game fresh and keeping new levels interesting.
If you got tired of the game’s Career mode you could venture into the game’s free skate or two player modes. Free Skate mode just allows you to skate in the unlocked levels at…well….your free will with no goals or objectives to do. It’s about as boring as it sounds. Two player mode was awesome if you happened to have a buddy sitting next to you. Two players can compete against each other split-screen style to see who can score the most points, or who can trick off of the most objects. There was also the classic game of “HORSE” included. Pushing yourself against a friend in Tony Hawk’s two player mode never got boring and can provide plenty of tense battles to see who could get that last point and prove victorious.
Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater was more than just a game when it first launched even though most had no idea the places it would go. The skate mechanics were well done, and the gameplay was extremely addictive and made you strive for your own personal success. While the game could get repetitive real fast, the level variety and throwing in a buddy to play against could help pick things up again. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater is a fun, fresh, and unique game that pioneered an entire genre of games. If you still haven’t played it up to this point then there’s no better time than the present. So grab a trident controller and start skating around the virtual world of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater. You won’t regret it.
Share This Post